Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mrs. Hockey passes away at 76

The Red Wings mourn the passing of Colleen Howe, Mrs. Hockey, wife of Red Wings' great, Gordie Howe.

Colleen passed Friday at home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., following a courageous battle with Pick’s disease, an incurable neurological form of dementia. She was 76.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Gordie, Mark, Marty, Cathy, Murray and the entire Howe family,” said Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch. “Colleen was a pioneer hockey wife and hockey mom and devoted her entire life to the betterment of the game. She will be sincerely missed by us and all who knew her.”

Funeral arrangements are to be announced.

Colleen was an outstanding businesswoman having developed a number of business interests during Gordie’s playing career. She was president of Power Play International and Power Play Publications, was an Amway distributor, sold insurance, and once ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican candidate in Connecticut.

She also organized the family’s philanthropic efforts, including the Howe Foundation, which generated funds for children of all ages in need. Her mission was to improve the quality of life through developing programs for children in physical or psychological crisis, and the foundation has continued to grow through the years by raising thousands in funds.

Colleen Howe was the first woman inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. She was also honored as Michigan’s Sportswoman of the Year in 1973.

In the Red Wings’ book as a tribute to Gordie Howe that was published in Oct. 2007, Mr. Hockey wrote a very touching dedication to the woman that he loved from the time he saw her bowling at Lucky Strike Lanes down the street from Olympia Stadium on Grand River Ave. in 1951. The couple was married on April 15, 1953.

Gordie wrote, “I dedicate this book to my lovely bride Colleen. While I received the applause, you stood behind me and cheered the loudest. While I focused on improving my game, you made sure the bills were getting paid. While I was on the overnight trains and planes from city to city, you were tucking in the kids and teaching them to pray for their daddy. You have been my biggest fan. My agent. My dietician. My counselor. And even now as you battle for your life, you are my inspiration, my strength, and the love of my life.”

Colleen is survived by her husband Gordie; sons Marty, Mark and Murray, and daughter Cathy; nine grandchildren; and one great grandchild.

In 1997, I remember meeting Colleen at an autograph session with Gordie at my city's ice arena here in St. Clair Shores for the signing of their book. She was such a sweet lady and took the time to at least talk to everyone when they came up to get their autograph. She will be greatly missed. RIP Colleen Howe.

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